Incredible India and Amazing Ayurveda

For the whole month of December 2016 some friends and I have been in Kerala, India in an Ayurveda Pancha Karma Retreat. Dr. Mini Joy, is a third generation Ayurveda Physician, and she runs a small Retreat Center from her home. She has made cottages in her back garden for guests to stay. A word of caution in case you are thinking to book immediately for a retreat with her; she offers authentic Ayurveda, not the tourist variety. However, even though the process can be super intense for some people, she holds it with so much love and wisdom that we are able to melt and allow our bodies to be fully detoxed and rejuvenated. She takes people for a minimum of three weeks with four weeks being the preferred amount of time for full purging and rejuvenation.

My Experience during Pancha Karma
I am a great believer in wellness and preventative medicine. It is for this reason that I go through a Pancha Karma Retreat each two years.

img_7564At the time of writing I have been here 4 weeks and have been going through 10 days of detox, 5 days of toning for muscles and bones, and 7 days of rejuvenation therapies. All aspects of my body have been purged, using every orifice to do so! Medicinal packs and a lot of medicinal oil has been used during the almost daily massages, making my skin soft and supple. I have been offered simple and delicious food and herbal medicines coming from recipes that date back through thousands of years of experience and refinement.

I have also received slightly warm medicinal oil poured gently over my forehead for up to 45 minutes at a time in a process called Shirodhara. This is a profound and mysterious healing method that resets the nervous system and brain, clearing mental toxins and karma. Through this and other treatments, I experienced profound states of meditation and bliss.

My two therapists, Samya and Aasha have both been excellent in their loving presence and professional session giving skills. I felt completely surrendered in every session due to their impeccable style of working. At one point in my process I went through a healing crisis and they performed a miracle in dealing with it.

My right knee became swollen and was in agonizing pain. I could neither bend it nor straighten it. The next morning when I tried to stand I found out that the whole right side of my body was in pain. I had a fever and felt dizzy. The doctor told me my pingala nadi had become inflamed due to something toxic releasing from my brain.

My therapists immediately applied a thick black herbal paste down the back of the whole right side of my body and left this for a few hours. Almost immediately, I felt a profound cooling effect and the pain diminished. By the next morning, I felt my whole system had come into alignment and I was able to do yoga and walk normally again.

Ayurveda really has healing and wellness down to a fine art. It is truly amazing to imagine Ayurveda has been around for aproxamately 6000 years and is still as relevant today as it was then. I hope many more people on our planet will be able to benefit from having Ayurveda treatments. It can help to reset the health button in the world!

I came here in the company of a few friends and it has been great to go through the Panch Karma process together. We have shared our joys and sorrows, talked a lot about bodily purging processes such as poo and vomiting, and taken lovely walks near the backwaters and on countryside roads.

I interviewed some of my friends, asking them to share their experience for the benefit of all.

Niraj: (Bio Danza Teacher and Trainer)

download“I hadn’t done a great deal of research about Ayurveda before coming. I was simply hoping for physical rejuvenation. I feel that, yes, all my biological systems are purged and it is really a great holistic reset. What I loved is that nothing that they used was in any way toxic or dangerous, (no side effects.) It is simply natural herbal concoctions, decoctions; it is without risk. It is such a comforting thought that no toxins are entering my body despite being worked on up to three times per day!

I feel rejuvenated and relaxed on a physical and emotional level. I feel an enhanced sensitivity. I can immediately feel the effect of my primary dosha, ie the pitta (fire dosha) rising. I have never been able to feel that effect from eating food before. Spiritually I have not yet noticed a great shift, but this is only week 4 and I am going into an intensive darkness retreat as part of my process for another week after this. Perhaps the spiritual aspects will manifest for me then.

I have actually been distracting myself each day up till now, by using my computer. I have not completely unplugged from the ‘doing mentality’. Next year I will not even bring my computer!

I feel really good to have been vegan (with the exception of having ghee) for 4 weeks. For those thinking of doing Pancha Karma, definitely do it! Take it as a retreat. Don’t bring phone or computer otherwise you may miss the subtle aspects of it. You can’t not be affected by it and you also can’t be harmed by it. In Western medicine more people die of allopathic treatments than from heart disease.

Pancha karma is a self-love program. It is a major signal of self-love that goes to the universe and then those forces get on board and the subsequent effects may be even more miraculous.


Raj, (Global Manager of from USA
download-1“I thought Pancha Karma would be challenging but actually it has been quite easy for me. The time flew by. I enjoy so much Dr. Mini’s loving energy, the nature here, and the wonderful food. I love the exquisite daily massage and all in all, it has been really a joy for me.

I have had a lot of time to read and take care of myself. Usually I don’t give myself this kind of time to just relax and so it has been really great to discover a greater sense of let go. My body feels nourished and stronger. I feel my health improving each day.

I wanted to come because of digestive difficulties, problems I have had since childhood. While I eat a healthy vegan diet now, that has not always been the case. Despite both my parents being respected MDs, neither of them had any training in nutrition, which is sadly the case for most MDs in the USA. I grew up on a typical American diet, which consists primarily of junk food. As a child I was fed microwave frozen TV dinners, processed sugar in many forms, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, processed meat, ramen noodles (full of MSG), GMO corn and other pesticide-laden vegetables, fluoridated tap water, lots of pasteurized homogenized milk and tons of antibiotics. This lethal (and common) cocktail completely destroyed my intestines and digestive tract. It is amazing to me now that no doctor or anyone ever made the connection between my diet and my poor health.

I have tried many different methods to solve my problem and obviously western medicine failed me. The prescriptions I was given just made things worse. Changes to diet and nutrition though helpful were not enough. Advanced medical technologies, (Health Optimizing) as offered by Thomas Aksnes in Norway put me in the right direction. However, more was needed. This is why I chose to come for a one-month Pancha Karma Retreat. I will return for another one next year, and in fact, will return for three years in a row.

For those who may be thinking of doing a Pancha Karma, if you are ready to cleanse yourself of physical and mental toxins and bring clarity to your life on all levels, come, be nourished and transformed! Come with an open mind and willingness to heal!”

Susan: Psychologist (Master of Science) Germany
“I have had a wish for a long time to do something just for me, such as a wellness retreat for body mind and soul. My husband was thinking to come and yet he was not able to go so he asked me if would like to go. When I said yes, I actually had no idea what is Pancha Karma! I just felt the call to go for it and I trusted my intuition.

It was really time for me to clean up my health. I arrived in one state of being and found myself moving to a whole new spiritual level. I realized my body is a temple. I got more and more connected with my body. I entered states of meditation during the massage sometimes, and this is absolutely new for me. I stopped smoking and this has been a wish for a long time, to leave smoking once and for all. It was easy in the environment of the pancha karma to let it go.

Now I feel whole and clean. My strength is back. I used to push my energy down with the smoking. Now I realize I can handle my true power.

I recommend to anyone who is interested in finding your true self to go for one month of Pancha Karma, It cleanses the body but also rejuvenates the mind and connects you with the soul. It brings lightness of being.

Dr. Mini and her staff offer a really a wonderful possibility to honor oneself through this Pancha Karma process. I am very grateful for my experience here and am looking forward to integrating it in my daily life.”

Anand: (Civil Engineer /Developer) from India
“I came for a one month Pancha Karma because I had an injury 2 years ago. C4 and C5 in my cervical neck were creating numbness in my right hand. My whole hand was weak and particularly the index finger. Also, I had gained too much weight and wanted to reduce this.
I knew something about pancha karma, but not the details about all the processes that are used. I was just imagining some kind of detox will happen. I was simply thinking it will be good for my health. Also, because Sarita had recommended it, I came on trust in her good judgment.

download-2Now, I have much less pain in my neck and the numbness is almost gone. The massage person, Muli, found an internal problem in my nerves and he worked very hard on releasing the blockage. He also found a point in my leg, which would have created problems in future. He dissolved each and every knot in my body. I also lost a lot of weight. Murli and the doctor found the source of the numbness and worked it through. This was amazing because previously, no therapist, doctor or massage expert has ever been able to find the source of my problem. I am very impressed.

The treatment persons are so skilled, devoted and loving in their work. My main therapist’s name is Murli and I regard him almost like a father as his loving devotion to my healing and wellbeing is so profound. Murli is a boyhood name of Lord Krishna and Murli my massage therapist, was really playing my body like a flute, finding the knots and working these through in order for the flute of my body to play harmonious music.

The doctor, always consults with her therapists and knows each and everything going on with her patients. She has healing power and exceptional knowledge of Ayurveda also uses prayer and mantra to bring out the best for each person who comes. She never treats us like patients, but rather just like members of her own family. She has let me taste all kinds of delicious foods, which are specialties of Kerala. I felt so well cared for in every sense.

The Satvic food and the timings of eating, are so beneficial for me. Previously, I would just sit at the table without appetite and eat mechanically, but now my healthy appetite has returned, and yet I am losing weight.

Some of the processes were really difficult for me, for example the ghee drinking and the herbal enemas. Half way through the process I wanted to escape and I was helped to remain by Sarita kindly giving me color light therapy treatments and also by speaking with the doctor. Dr. Mini explained to me that if I go, all the good benefits would be lost as the process was only half way through and I would have side effects due to the incomplete treatment. I then decided to stay.

At that point I was very weak due to the detox and it would not have been right if I left actually. Now I have much more energy, better stamina. I am able t do jogging or accelerated walking as exercise in the morning, which was not possible before. My body is lighter from inside. I used to have hardness in the liver area and now my whole body is soft, inside and outside.

Previously, being so long away from my business created a lot of disturbance inside. However, now I find I am feeling much more confidant to face whatever will be needed in my business and approach it in a calm, balanced way.

Spiritually, I am finding I am able to go deeper in my meditation. I am able to sit for more time and my body is calm and quiet. My body actually wants to be in silence. Inner agitation is gone.

Pancha Karma is the best process to go through intensive healing. Anyone can benefit from this program. If you decide to do it, be patient as the processes are going on and you will have amazing results. It is also a good process for inner being. Both body and mind are detoxified and you will go on an inner journey of body and soul.”

Origins of Ayurveda in India
The origins of Ayurveda are recalled through an oral myth based tradition which recounts that this type of healing came directly from Brahma, (God) to Vishnu, (A God who is the preserver of life) A Sage named Bharadvaja learned these secrets of medicine from Vishnu and then taught his compounded wisdom to a group of sages. The Sages then taught aspects of it to their disciples.

ayurveda-1A great Rishi and master healer of ancient India named Punarvasu Atreya, had 6 disciples who also became masters of healing. One of his disciples, Agnivesha created a compendium based on the teachings of Atreya The name of the book was Agnivesh Tantra. Later, in the 1st Century A.D. a physician by the name (or title) Charaka, compiled, edited and added to the original manuscript by Agnivesha and in this format it became known as Charaka Samhita. This massive tome of wisdom has aproxamately 1,990 varieties of medicinal plants listed, each one having gone through an extremely rigorous process of empirical testing before it was eligible to be included in the Charaka Samhita.

Sushruta in about 1000 B.C, created a pivotal textbook inspired by the father of surgery, Dhanvantri, (also known as the God of Ayurveda.) This textbook is known as the Sushruta Samhita. It is astonishing to know that hundreds of years before Ayurveda became a systematized form of medicine, specialists were already performing intricate surgery for many types of medical problems, including head, inner organs, and even plastic surgery to repair ears, eyes or nose.

The Charaka Samhita and the Sushruta Samhita were two textbooks used as a base for understanding medicine in all it’s 8 forms at great universities in India, such as Takshashila (700 BC—500 AD) and Nalanda, (500 AD—1300 AD) (These were the worlds first universities)
The Charaka Samhita recounts a dialogue between many physician sages gathered in the Himalayas, who held impassioned debates about the science of healing. Each time they reached a unanimous decision, this finding would then be included in their timeless system of medicine. They decided to call this system, Ayurveda, meaning the Science of Life, or The Art of Living.

Another great name in the history of Ayurveda is Chakrapani Dutta, (1038) who was the physician for King Laxman. He wrote a compendium called Chakradutta, which is thought to hold the very essence of Ayurveda. There are many other authors of great repute who have added their wisdom into the river of Ayurveda over hundreds of years.

Gautama the Buddha’s influence, (beginning 500 years BC) was supreme in the development of Ayurveda as we know it today. His meditation-based teaching dispelled of Gods and the cast system. His influence paved the way for the folk medicine of India to let go of the trappings of superstition and be formed into a complete science of healing and wellness.

The 8 branches of Ayurveda are:
1) Kayachikitsa (general medicine, including all organs)
2) Shalakya (treatments for the head and neck including eyes, ears, throat, nose and mouth.)
3) Shalya (Surgery)
4) Bhuta Vidya (Spiritual Healing; for mentally based or supernatural based phenomena not explainable by normal medical logic.)
5) Kaumarabhritya (The healing of children)
6) Agadatantra (using antidotes to treat poisons of all kinds)
7) Rasayana (Wellness and rejuvenation treatments)
8) Vajikarana (Sexual healing and the enhancement of libido and fertility)

Ayurveda inspired Syrian, Babylonian, Chinese, Tibetan, Japanese, Greek and other medicinal orientations, just as Ayurveda has benefited from streams of wisdom coming from outside of India, such as Middle Eastern approaches to healing.

A wonderful quote, which sums up the Ayurveda approach to medicine came from the teacher of Sushruta: “Ayurveda has two purposes, to release the ill from illness and to serve the health of the healthy.”

The Philosophy of Ayurveda
download-2The philosophy of Ayurveda is eternally relevant. In a nutshell, it is based on the 5 elements (bhutas) and the seasons, (Ruticharya) and how these influences fluctuate within our body. The wisdom of the Ayurvedic physician lies in his or her ability to diagnose which element may be uppermost in a person’s body, and what has to be done to bring balance, so that all the elements find a way to bring forth their essential qualities, in harmony. When the eco-system of the earth is balanced, we have a paradise condition on the earth. Likewise, when the eco-system of the body, which is a microcosm of the macrocosm, is balanced, we have health. This state of balance in Ayurveda is called ‘dhatu samya’. Dhatu are the various constituents’ arising from the five elements that form our body and physical universe.

Charaka says: “The universe and the individual are a continuum. Whatever exists in the cosmos exists in the individual; reciprocally, whatever constitutes the individual exists in the universe.”

When a person carries a state of imbalance, this is called Dosha. A Dosha condition will arise according to the basic constitution of a person, (which is believed to be activated at the time of conception) how their food is being assimilated and waste is being processed. Normally waste elements are released through sweat, urine and bowel movements. However, if there is mental, emotional and physical stagnation, the normally smooth process of waste elimination may be retarded, leading to imbalance and disease.

There are three Dosha states, Vata being air and ether (including wind) Pitta being Fire and Kapha being Earth and Water. If someone carries an aggravation of one or more Doshas, this needs to be balanced using the opposite element. This is achieved through Dosha balancing foods, herbal medications, massage, acupressure points (called Marma) detoxing and purging.

A quote from Sushruta is a good reminder to physicians of our contemporary world: “In the absence of a sound understanding of food, it’s varieties, preparations and functions, physicians would neither be able to maintain the health of the healthy nor control the disorders of the ill.”

(Buddha is recounted as saying that there were originally three diseases, desire, hunger and aging, which multiplied to ninety-eight as a consequence of slaughtering animals.)

Foods in Aurveda are of prime importance for the maintenance of health and the cure of disease. Foods are divided into three categories, Tamas, (inertia) Rajas (fiery) and Sattvic (essence, or wisdom foods) An example of this in today’s world would be: meat and junk foods: Tamas, over stimulating highly seasoned foods: Rajas and a well balanced diet of organic vegetarian or vegan foods: Sattvic.

Ayurvedic Diagnosis
One of the mysteries in Ayurveda are the methods of diagnostics. Some portions of diagnosis can be understood through logic, and some can only be explained as the art of telepathy. A Doctor who is a Master of Ayurveda is able to read the pulse, tongue, eyes and other indications in such a way that they know everything about the person within a matter of seconds, including all the diseases they have ever had and all they will be prone to. It is said that 20 years of dedicated study is needed in order to be able to read the pulse in this way, and that even then, it is inborn for some persons to be able to do it while others may strive for many years without ever being able to master the technique.

During British rule in India, Ayurveda was thrown aside for modernization. Now, ironically, people from the West flood into India seeking Ayurvedic cures while the ‘Medical Mafia’ in the West rakes in huge profits at the expense of the sick and dying, a result of the non-holistic approach of modern medicine.

Charaka states, very practically: “By treating diseases with medicines endowed with virtues opposed to their originating causes, we succeed in fully restoring the patients to their normal condition.”

The Science for a Joyous and Fulfilled Life
At one time, Tantra, Yoga and Ayurveda were three branches of the same Tree Of Life: offering health, equilibrium and spiritual expansion for a life of joy and fulfillment. It has been my experience that for true health and wholeness to be experienced, we need to have a balance of body, mind, emotions, soul and spirit. All of these aspects within us need to be in harmony, otherwise disease will be the result. In this sense, Ayurveda has really captured the essence of healing with it’s focus on the art of living a balanced, healthy and joyous lifestyle.

One of the most potent ways of achieving balance and wellness is through the Ayurvedic process of Pancha Karma, which is to be done as a residential retreat for either 7, 14, 21 or 28 days.

Vagbhata, an Ayurvedic Physcision said:
“Doshas which pervade the gut, tissues, body channels, limbs and bones are loosened by lubrication and liquefied by fomentation; they enter the gut to be eliminated by purificatory measures.”

A Glimpse Into The Era of Compassion
I quote here a very poignant passage written by a Chinese traveller named Hiuen Tsiang who visited India in the 5th century AD. (This passage is recounted in M S Valiathan’s excellent book, An Introduction To Ayurveda.)

“The nobles and householders of this country have founded hospitals within the city, to which the poor of all countries, the destitute, cripples and diseased may repair. They receive every kind of help, gratuitously. Physicians inspect their diseases, and according to their cases, order them food and drink, medicines or decoctions, everything in fact that may contribute to their ease. When cured, they depart at their convenience.”

This glimpse into the past can certainly offer inspiration for our society today, showing us a world where wisdom, love and compassion rule.

Sources for research:
Ayurveda: The Art of Being (documentary)


An Introduction to Ayurveda by M. S. Valiathan

Forever Young; Unleashing the Magic of Ayurveda
by Reenita Malhotra Hora

By Ma Ananda Sarita

One response to “Incredible India and Amazing Ayurveda”

  1. steve Templeton says:

    This sounds amazing and i would like to take part for a minimum of 4 weeks,

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